How To Get Prospects And Clients To See You As A Trusted Advisor

recruiting recruitment staffing Jun 28, 2023

Most recruiting firms are viewed by their prospects and clients as a commodity. When you're perceived in this way, you're set up to fail and encounter the following disadvantages:

  • You're unlikely to receive a retainer and exclusive and are thrown up against other recruiting firms
  • You have far less access to the hiring managers
  • You have greater difficulty getting interviews for your candidates
  • You have limited ability to influence the compensation and requirements 

The above obstacles can easily be the difference between a 10-15% fill ratio and 75-90%.

If your marketing and sales efforts are similar to your competitors, your prospects and clients will likely see you as a commodity. And, once you're viewed as a commodity, it's difficult to shift their perception of you.


Creating a trusted advisor image

It's important to differentiate yourself from your competitors at all stages of your interaction with prospects and clients. Below are the contrasting approaches between a "recruiting industry commodity" (RIC)  and a "recruiting industry trusted advisor" (RITA).

Stage 1: Your marketing efforts.

Marketing predominately refers to your digital content, including your website, LinkedIn profile, and email marketing. 

RIC Approach: The RIC does not invest much time and effort into creating content that resonates with its audience. They look at marketing as a numbers game emphasizing quantity over quality, not realizing that low quality paints you as a commodity. 

They also try to rush prospects into conversations before they've developed trust and credibility with them. For example, when a prospect accepts a LinkedIn connection request, they'll try to set up a meeting right away rather than taking the time and effort to provide value first.

RITA Approach: The RITA's content strategy focuses on addressing real problems their clients face in hiring and retention.  Quality content causes prospects to feel the pain of their challenges while receiving practical advice to solve these problems. The RITA's content is not very promotional since trusted advisors are much more consultative than promotional.

Stage 2: Initial conversation with a prospect  

RIC Approach: The RIC assumes they already know the key things the prospect seeks in choosing a recruiting firm. As a result, early in the conversation, they tell the prospect wonderful things about themselves in an attempt to impress the prospect into submission. This tactic is rarely effective.

RITA Approach: The RITA never assumes they know what their prospect is looking for in choosing a recruiting firm. As a result, they ask questions to find out what's important to the prospect in selecting a recruiting partner. When you know what the prospect is looking for and what they want to avoid, you can tailor your presentation accordingly. Crazy, right?

RITAs also ask questions to determine what the client has done to fill a position. For example, if the role has been open for six months and they've worked with three other recruiting firms who have already failed, there are serious issues you need to address. Trusted advisors tend to avoid situations where they're set up to fail. 

Stage 3: Job intake call. 

RIC Approach: The RIC considers their client's job description (JD) to represent the job accurately and views the intake call as a way to quickly clarify and confirm information from the JD. Unfortunately, most client-provided JDs are a poor representation of the client's actual hiring need. Since the RIC doesn't have an accurate target to work with, their results are far below what they should be.

When told they can't talk to the hiring manager and must work through HR, they still move forward and hope for the best. As a result, they don't know what matters most to the client. Also, when not working with the hiring manager, the RIC has minimal ability to influence the client to change the specs and compensation when needed. 

RITA Approach: The RITA knows that the client's JD is usually garbage! They also know that unless they work directly with the hiring manager, they're just an "order taker," which sets them up to be a commodity rather than a trusted advisor.

The RITA uses a well-designed job intake questionnaire to truly understand what matters to the client and why it matters. To a great extent, people will judge you based on your questions. When you ask truly insightful questions to delve into important matters the client may not have considered, you emerge as a trusted advisor in their eyes. At this point, you greatly enhance your ability to influence them to adjust compensation and specs. And your ability to work with them on a retained/engaged basis skyrockets 

Taking the actions of a RITA will cause your prospects and clients to see you as a trusted advisor instead of a commodity. Being viewed as a trusted advisor is a key business development strategy for recruiting firm success. It is an important component in scaling a recruiting firm and sets you up to stand out from your competitors. This way, you minimize the losses and frustrations that most recruiting firms face. What choice will you make?

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